Human Solutions reopens blaze-damaged building

See why folks at this agency say the timing is good for them to be back in their main building, in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood …

Human Solutions has moved back into this building on SE Powell Boulevard, and is again serving those in need there.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Just after outer East Portland non-profit organization Human Solutions started its annual energy assistance program last fall, a fire at the agency’s main office at 12350 SE Powell Boulevard on October 16 threw the organization into temporary disarray.

  • To read about the fire, see our article: CLICK HERE.

But, the fire – suspected to have been set off by an errant roofer’s torch – didn’t stop their workers from rendering aid to very-low-income folks who live in East Portland – from the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, eastward to Gresham – including giving them energy assistance vouchers to stay warm, as winter set in.

“Some of our workers moved temporarily to our homeless shelters,” said the organization’s director, Jean DeMaster. “Some to the new Rockwood building; five of our staff members moved into the building’s Community Room, and others at our annex across the street.”

Lyubov Tsinovkina, Lead Workforce Specialist, and Human Solutions Director Jean DeMaster together look at the newly-replaced ceiling, an area completely destroyed by the fire.

During their main office’s renovation, however, many of the people they help had to travel as many as five additional miles to receive services ranging from emergency shelter to energy assistance to employment counseling.

But, on January 9, a sense of normalcy started returning as staffers set up their offices, brought in their files and arranged their desks.

“It’s good to be back, together, in our building,” DeMaster said, as she pointed out the new ceilings, flooring and cleaned office interiors, who added that they serve more than 30,000 people each year are served from that office.

Looking around the nearly empty lobby – usually filled with those looking for help – DeMaster added, “The message were trying to get out to the people in East Portland, especially to those in the Brentwood-Darlington and Lents neighborhoods, is to come back to Human Solutions at SE 123rd and Powell Boulevard if you need services.”

Human Solutions Energy Coordinator Roxanne Beveridge makes photocopies in the main office area, now fully restored after being badly damaged by the fire.

While they typically run low on vouchers this time of year, DeMaster noted, “We have funds for energy assistance to those available to eligible households. And we’re also serving homeless families and giving them into housing as quickly as possible. It’s so cold outside, we want to make sure that people come in and get help if they need it.

Human Solutions’ Powell office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The building’s Community Room is again available, free of charge, seven days a week during the day and early evening. For more information, call (503) 548-0200 or visit their website: CLICK HERE to open their homepage.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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